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Health insurance costs topic of work session


Executive Editor

Changing the amount of co-payments for doctor's visits and prescription drugs could save Crestwood more than $43,000 in health insurance costs for fiscal 2004.

During a work session last week, City Administrator Don Greer and Director of Finance Diana Madrid told the Board of Aldermen the city's health insurance premium for fiscal 2004 would increase by 11.7 percent over the current fiscal year.

As proposed, the cost of employee health insurance would total $962,521, up from the current rate of $860,808. That increase, however, is far less than the 20 percent to 25 percent increase originally projected by the city's insurance broker, the Daniel & Henry Co., and the city's insurance pro-vider, United HealthCare.

During a discussion of the health insurance costs, Ward 3 Alderman "Bernie'' Alexander had inquired about the cost of co-payments and was told by Madrid that a doctor's visit costs $10 and that co-payments for prescriptions drugs were $8, $15 and $30, depending on the prescription.

Noting those are low co-payments, Alexander said, "And we've not increased that obviously over a number of years.''

Ward 4 Alderman Tom Fagan said, "... Did you get a feel from the broker as to what our cost would be, our monthly premium, would be if the deductible was higher for the in-network services?''

Greer said that because the premium was increasing only 11.7 percent over the previous year, "it didn't look to me like it would be the year to do that.''

Alexander said, "Chief Greer, I would agree with that comment because 11.7 (percent) is not bad, but it's coming on top of a 31.7 (percent increase) last year, which is the killer and we ate all of that.''

After further discussion, Madrid noted that changing the doctor's visit co-payment to $15 could save more than $12,000 and changing the prescription drug co-payments to $7, $25 and $40 from $8, $15 and $30 could save roughly $31,700.

Aldermen indicated they wanted the administration to pursue the change in the amount of co-payments.

Madrid cautioned that the actual savings to the city could be somewhat less.

"These were two different quotes with two different premiums,'' she said. "One was $15 and one was the change in the drugs. If you would total the savings, it would be $43,743. However, since it was not quoted together, there may be a difference in the number because of how they work out the premium numbers. So this may not be the exact savings ... It could be less savings than the $43,743.''

In other matters May 27, the board:

• Heard the draft results of a blighting analysis of Watson Plaza it had authorized Peckham, Guyton, Albers & Viets to conduct two weeks earlier.

G.J. Grewe Inc. is proposing a $12.5 million redevelopment of Watson Plaza that calls for a Gordmans and a PETCO as well as retaining existing tenants. As proposed, a new Gordmans would occupy the former Service Merchandise building, a new PETCO would be built next to Gordmans and a new Walgreens would be built on the site of the former Tippins.

Grewe's proposal also includes a request for $2.5 million in tax-increment financing assistance and the blight analysis is needed if the board is going to consider granting that assistance.

John Brancaglione of PGAV reported that his analysis indicated the area would qualify as blighted under the Missouri Urban Redevelopment Corporations Law.

Among the blighting factors in evidence, he noted, are: the area is not able to pay reasonable taxes; the configuration of the specialized facility for the main anchor is obsolete, impeding the reuse of the anchor position and resulting in a high vacancy rate; and physical deterioration is in evidence throughout the area.

• Heard the results of a traffic study it had voted to authorize two weeks earlier.

The board voted unanimously May 13 to adopt an ordinance to begin condemnation proceedings for property owned by G.J. Grewe Inc. to extend Glenwood Drive. As proposed, the extension would improve traffic flow at the intersection of Glen-wood Drive and Watson Road as well as provide cross access between Watson Pla-za and the Kohl's Department Store being built at the northwest corner of Watson and Sappington roads.

However, Gary Grewe of G.J. Grewe Inc., which owns 92 percent of Watson Plaza, and his attorney, Kevin Cushing, said they opposed the access proposed through Watson Plaza to Glenwood Drive and requested the board postpone consideration of the ordinance until Crawford, Bunte, Brammeier could perform a traffic study taking into consideration Grewe's proposal to redevelop Watson Plaza.

Based on traffic counts conducted, Julie Nolfo of Crawford, Bunte, Brammeier told the board, "... In order to accommodate two left turn lanes, we could do something actually rather simple — take out the existing median that's in the center of the drive. Use that for the left turn lane. That would require the relocation of the monument sign that's there, but actually it fits within the existing footprint that is being considered for condemnation. You provide dual left turn lanes out ... We brought that to MoDOT (Missouri Department of Transportation), they were actually very receptive to it. So if Watson Plaza was to redevelop, that would be the configuration that we would recommend for that outbound lane.''

Also studied was the issue of cross access between Watson Plaza and the new Kohl's Department store being built on the northwest corner of Watson and Sappington roads. Nolfo told aldermen that cross access would be important for both developments.

"It's beneficial to both developments,'' Nolfo said. "With regards to the Kohl's, obviously it's beneficial to them in that motorists arriving from the west will have the ability to turn in at this center and then turn over to go into Kohl's. That's the primary benefit to Kohl's. With regards to Watson Plaza, the benefit is that motorists coming from Sappington Road, primarily to the north, can use that to come into Watson Plaza without having to come all the way down to Watson Road and come around to come in.

"Also motorists leaving Watson Plaza, going back to the north or even going over to Crestwood mall, can opt to use this to go over to Sappington Road ... We forecasted that you would have approximately 200 to 300 cars during the peak hours that would use this cross access, made up of both Kohl's traffic and Watson Plaza traffic, once it's redeveloped, of course, and fully functional. But that's a significant amount of traffic that would use that and divert it away from the existing access onto Watson Road. So it's certainly beneficial to both developments,'' she added.

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